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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Debate Over Execution Drugs Escalates

Update, January 29:  Lo and behold, U.S. Supreme Court halts execution after Missouri refuses to disclose source of lethal injection drug, meaning no way to judge if death would be by torture.   Final UpdateStay is lifted and the prisoner is killed.

Update, January 28:   Salon piece reveals that some states have difficulty with lethal injections now discussing return to...gas chambers, electric chair.  Hey, why not hangings and firing squads?

Saturday updatesAP reports execution took 26 minutes--longest in Ohio in many years.   Cruel--AND unusual.    The NYT with new piece on how this execution has revived debate over methods.  Note:  My recent e-book on capital punishment, which includes controversies over forms of executions and botched versions, in the USA, right here.   NYT:
Debates about the relative humaneness of different execution methods have persisted as long as arguments about the death penalty itself. In 1890, electrocution was substituted for hanging in the belief that it was less painful, but George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison both fought to keep their electrical currents out of the death chamber (Mr. Westinghouse lost). Lawyers for William Kemmler, the first person to die in the electric chair, argued that the method constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
Earlier:  Well, they pulled of their murder at 10:53 a.m., as Dennis McGuire was put to death with a new cocktail of chemicals.  As I've written, executions have been slowed by problems getting the good old lethal injection chems, due to manufacturers' qualms and other factors.  Update: contrary to earlier reports, McGuire gasped and heaved and struggled in an execution that took longer than previous ones. 

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